“Broday concludes the Outlaw Mail Order Bride series with a sizzling finale that features a tantalizingly slow build to intimate trust that catapults into adrenaline packed ardor.” ~Booklist
Next week on November 24th, I’ll release the fourth and final book of my Outlaw Mail Order Brides series. I’m warning readers to put their feet in the stirrups and hang on tight because this story is full of twists, turns, and surprises as Ridge and Addie fight tooth and nail for their HEA.
Ridge Steele is an ex-preacher weary of the outlaw life on the run and yearns for someone to share his days and nights with. He’s excited when Adeline Jancy agrees to marry him sight unseen and makes arrangements.
She’s as beautiful and kind as he’d dared hope for—except she can’t speak a word. She resorts to written communication only.
The look in her pretty eyes shows sadness…and the fear that he’d send her back. Only he’d been through enough hard times to know he can’t do that to her. He’s in it for the long haul.
But married life isn’t easy. They both find it littered with one problem after another that threatens to steal their happiness and culminates in a soul-jarring fight for the justice they both seek.
I think readers will find the story very thrilling and the conclusion satisfying. From the moment Ridge and Addie walked onto the page, I knew they were perfect for each other and early reviews have stated the same. This is a book that will stay with you long after you finish.
I’m sad to say goodbye to these outlaws with heart and the town of Hope’s Crossing but it’s time. I’ll start a new series called Lone Star Legends in April with the first book A COWBOY OF LEGEND. I hope you’ll like Gracie Legend’s story.
But first, give Once Upon a Mail Order Bride a try and find out how tough Ridge and Addie have to get to survive long enough to claim their love.
Here’s all four books of the series in order of their release in case you missed any or all.
I’m sure there were many men in the 1800s who’d turn away a mail order bride with any kind of impediment or deformity. My question…Would you turn her away or open your heart? I’m giving a copy of Once Upon a Mail Order Bride to TWO commenters.
**Announcement** The Mail Order Bride’s Secret is on sale across all outlets. $1.99 until Nov. 22, 2020. Click HERE for the links and an Excerpt.
Am really excited to let you know that my newest effort, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is due to be released on November 15th. Yea!
So, I thought I’d give you a quick glance at the cover and a little excerpt from the book, as well as the blurb. Hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt!
IRON WOLF’S BRIDE
I will return to you, my love…
Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.
Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest. But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away. Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane. However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another. And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.
But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son. Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?
Warning: Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.
Iron Wolf’s Bride
Despite the warmth of the evening, the marble flooring of the foyer was cold beneath Jane’s slippers. She was gazing forward, looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows which graced the manor’s entryway. Lacy, white curtains framed the windows, and, as Jane reached out to touch their softness, she recalled the feel of a smooth, deerskin bag that Iron Wolf had given her upon their marriage. She’d had to leave it behind.
Iron Wolf… How she wished that this evening were already over.
Biting her lip, she looked forward once more, out the window. There were so many carriages out there; there must have been fifty or more of them, carrying the cast from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show here tonight. And, one by one they pulled into the sweeping driveway of her uncle’s red-brick mansion.
The hour was early evening, and the many lanterns—which were scattered here and there along the brick drive—shone with a hazy light into the mist of the darkness, causing small pockets of foggy light to glitter, as though held there by a ghostly hand. It caused the carriages to be appear to be as dark and as dreary as a funeral procession.
A shiver rushed over Jane’s skin as she realized that the ghosts from her past had come to haunt her tonight. Iron Wolf would be amongst these people, and her tension because of this knowledge was so great, she held onto Nathaniel with a tight grip on his arm. Luckily, he didn’t seem to mind and he patted her hand, his touch reassuring and gentle.
That her uncle had invited the entire cast of the Wild West Show to his estate was to Jane not to be believed, especially because tonight should have been the celebration party of her marriage to Nathaniel. But, her uncle had explained that because the musicians had already been hired and an assortment of cooks were still on hand to provide the dinner, the original form of the party had changed from being a quiet dinner party to a ball and a sit-down dinner.
Why was her uncle honoring Bill Cody’s Wild West Show? Didn’t he disdain those public gatherings which he labeled as “spectacles”? Was it because Jane’s sister, Luci, performed with the show? Perhaps.
And, of course Luci would be present here tonight, as would Luci’s husband, Wind Eagle. Blue Thunder would also be present…and Iron Wolf. There would be little chance she could avoid her former husband this evening, since he and his two friends were known to be Buffalo Bill’s most popular act—popular, that is, with the ladies.
During The Wild West’s long run, the threesome’s performances—which included not only daring feats of horsemanship, but also expert marksmanship—had gained steady popularity. Indeed, a few years past, the three young men had added the American Indian style of singing and dancing as part of their entertainment. From there, and because of that, the number of tickets sold to those of the female gender—young and old—had tripled the income of the show, if one were to believe the newspapers. Indeed, her uncle had informed her that Buffalo Bill had asked the three young men to entertain this small gathering of London’s “elect” which was to be present here tonight.
At the moment, she could do little more than wonder how she was to get through the evening with her emotions still intact. Pray, it might be the greatest acting performance of her life, since she was upset with them all: her sister, Wind Eagle, Blue Thunder and especially Iron Wolf. But, she would sooner die from the heartbreak they had caused her than to openly show the hurt of their two-and-a-half-year indifference. She promised herself that she would paste her most cordial smile onto her countenance, and she would grin as though her life depended upon it…and perhaps it did.
Jeremy, her son, would not be present at the festivities tonight, and for this Jane was indebted to Marci, who would attend to him and ensure his bedtime schedule remained the same as usual. More commonly, Jane saw to her son’s nighttime storytelling and to the delightful chore of tucking him into bed. Often, when there was a party, Jeremy was permitted to attend it.
But not tonight. Tonight she needed every bit of her attention focused upon her smile and getting through the evening without grief and tears.
Suddenly her heart seemed to stop. There he was, exiting a carriage and stepping toward the house in the casual manner he seemed to have perfected. His friends, Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder, as well as Jane’s sister, Luci, flanked him on either side. Suddenly Jane’s breathing stopped and her heart raced, reminding her that she had not yet healed from the wounds Iron Wolf had inflicted upon her.
How innocent she had been back then, although, if she were to be honest, she would admit to wishing to be so happy again. Ah, if life could only be like that once more.
She sighed, noticing at the same time that her sister, Luci, was dressed as she usually was when she performed with the show—as a boy—and Jane was startled to witness it. Surely, Luci didn’t have to still pretend to be someone she was not, did she? Didn’t she realize that dressing as a boy here would give away her true identity?
Whatever the reason for the disguise, it made Jane feel uneasy. Was there a continuing danger to Luci and to herself, as well, that demanded her sister continue the disguise?
But, she quickly forgot the question, when, seeing Iron Wolf walk slowly toward her, Jane’s attention came away from her sister to focus squarely onto her former husband. He wore his best clothing tonight, she noted, and he looked so handsome that she could not suppress the soft gasp which fell from her lips.
A tanned-buckskin shirt and leggings seemed to caress his casual movements, and she realized she had rarely seen him dress in this manner, for Buffalo Bill provided the cotton shirts and trousers that the American Indian performers wore. His style of buckskin clothing was adorned with beads set in round designs of orange, blue and yellow colors, and the same scheme was repeated on his breechcloth and his moccasins. She caught sight of the several feathers that were fastened together and fell down from the back of his head, disappearing from her view as Iron Wolf stepped readily forward. He had left his hair loose and long tonight, the whole of it thrown over his shoulders. There was no bow in his hands or quiver full of arrows upon his back, but still, she could see that he was armed, for a colt .45 was neatly tucked into a holster that fit around his lower waist.
He had painted two streaks of red upon his cheeks, but he wore no other war paint. From this distance, Jane’s stomach was already reacting in turmoil toward him, warning her of the danger he presented her. But, she had no choice but to ignore it. She had promised herself that she would play her part of a happy young lady tonight and nothing would distract her from that, pretense though it was.
The havoc of her emotional fears and grief, however, was so great, that when the four of them walked into the foyer, Jane thought she might faint. But, she mustered up the act she had decided to present them, and, as she and Nathaniel paced toward the four of them, her grip on Nathaniel’s arm was so tight, it might have been made of iron instead of flesh and blood.
She smiled at all four of them briefly, then said, “Luci, Wind Eagle, how are you?”
“We are well,” answered Wind Eagle.
“Good, I am glad to hear it.” Jane smiled again, but couldn’t quite look at Iron Wolf as she continued, “Iron Wolf, Blue Thunder, you are both welcome here tonight.”
Blue Thunder nodded. Iron Wolf, however, did nothing and said nothing, causing Jane to look up at him briefly. In that glance, short as it was, she saw that he did not gaze at her, but had cast his glance upon her hand which remained clutched upon Nathaniel’s arm, while Nathaniel’s hand covered hers.
And then, before she could look away, Iron Wolf thrust his chin forward and stared down his nose at her, looking at her as though she were made of something distasteful. He didn’t smile; he didn’t say a word. And, the expression on his countenance—outside of disgust—was so blank that little other emotion could be seen there.
He continued to remain silent, though his brief look at Nathaniel could have melted steel. But, instead of speaking, he turned quickly away from Jane and Nathaniel, following the other performers into the ballroom. And Jane, glad to have the first introductions accomplished without error on her part, sighed. Hopefully, the rest of the evening would go as planned.
To say that Iron Wolf was upset would not have done justice to the fury raging within him. Who was that man? Whoever he was, he had been touching her. And worse, she had let him, had perhaps encouraged him, for her hand had rested on that man’s arm.
What had happened here in this strange country of England? Was his wife’s love for him so lacking that she had placed another man in her affections? He blew out a breath in revulsion. It might be so.
Well, let them both look at and try to rationalize the performance he had this moment decided to give in this foreign and hostile place. Their music featured both Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder as the vocalists in their trio. Wind Eagle also kept time with a buffalo-hide drum and Blue Thunder accompanied the rhythm by shaking two different rattles. While Iron Wolf also sang at times, he usually played his flute in these performances. Also, he had become the group’s dancer.
For this, Iron Wolf was grateful. His part in their performance tonight would allow him to give the presentation of his life. She might not like what he was about to do, but he would ensure she would never again relegate him to the back recesses of her mind.
Áwicakeya, he dared her to forget about him again…ever.
Jane didn’t wish to view Iron Wolf’s and his friends’ act of drumming, singing and dancing. Indeed, she wished she could be anywhere else but here, looking on. But, it was not to be.
The gala which should have been her wedding party had turned sour. Not that it was anyone else’s fault. It was she, after all, who had postponed her wedding, and all because of one man, her former husband, Iron Wolf.
Servants had arranged the front of the ballroom into a stage for the performers, who were billed under their English names: Charles Wind Eagle, Luke Blue Thunder Striking, and of course her former husband, Michael Iron Wolf. Chairs were clustered around the stage in five different rows. After this performance, a ball was scheduled to follow, and, immediately after that, a sit-down dinner.
As the three men stepped forward, Iron Wolf turned so he was facing forward. He caught her eye, and Jane drew in her breath sharply. His look at her was so hostile, she had no choice but to look away.
Soon, the music began. Both Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder were singing. Blue Thunder took the lead with the song’s high-pitched intro. Wind Eagle followed the lead, singing the same minor-keyed melody. Wind Eagle beat out time on a hide-covered, hand-held drum, and Blue Thunder shook the two different rattles. Iron Wolf wasn’t singing, instead he was playing his flute, but it wasn’t long before he began to dance. Indeed, he was the only one of the three men who was dancing.
Too soon, it became evident that Iron Wolf was fashioning his performance to be much too personal, and Jane caught her breath as he stared directly at her while his dance took on a sensual, sexual nature, his hips jutting forward in time to the music. Jane stirred uneasily, for a passionate sort of excitement was arising within her, and she didn’t wish to experience it.
As his dance continued in much the same manner, she wondered how much of this she could take. Already recollections of their lovemaking from their not-too-distant past were materializing in her mind, and the reminiscence of their lovemaking flooded her body with an unwanted, yet passionate response. As she watched, she couldn’t control the unwelcome, yet soul-stirring excitement which burned like fire over her nerve endings. It was too much and she knew she had to get away.
But she couldn’t jump up suddenly and run from the room. Her uncle, her aunt and even Nathaniel would be scandalized. Briefly, she looked over her shoulder, searching for a reprieve. But, all she saw were her uncle, Buffalo Bill and her uncle’s moneyed friends, who were standing or sitting toward the back of the room.
There was no comfort to be found there. Looking forward again, her eyes met Iron Wolf’s angry and openly hostile gaze. What did he have to be angry about? It was she who was the victim of his scandalous affair.
Still, she wished now that Nathaniel hadn’t picked the front section of seats in order to watch the entertainment. She had nowhere to go.
Luckily, Luci had taken up a position on Jane’s left while Nathaniel reposed on her right, and, despite Nathaniel’s presence beside her—perhaps because of it—Iron Wolf’s gaze at her did not allow to her look away. All the while, his blatantly passionate dance made love to her. Even his flute playing did not detract from the explicit, carnal manner of his movements.
Unfortunately for Jane, his dance was causing her usually conservative composure to shatter. Suddenly, Iron Wolf squatted down on one knee, jutted his hips forward briefly, then jumped up with a vigor that proclaimed his youthful prowess. The suggestive movement caused her heart to leap, and Jane wished she were embarrassed by his antics. The truth was, however, she wasn’t. She was responding to it—unwillingly, yes. But, she was reacting to it all the same, and in kind.
She had to look away. She tried to do so, but found it was impossible. He was seducing her in front of everyone here, plain and simple. With his legs spread apart, he fell down into a partial side-split, and, taking the mouthpiece of his flute out of his mouth, he held his hands up in the air as he slid back up into a standing position. He then fell into a dance step—up and back, standing straight, then hunched over—all the while rocking and jutting his hips forward in so sensuous a manner, and in such an apparent, sexual way, it took Jane’s breath away. Parts of her body appeared to be out of her control, being awakened by Iron Wolf’s display, and, try as she might to suppress the stirred-up lust he was causing, she couldn’t. She gulped nervously.
Luci reached out to take Jane’s hand into her own, and Jane was glad of her presence beside her. At last the music became low and soft, allowing Iron Wolf to speak out in English, and he said,
My wife, what has happened to us?
My wife, I have waited for you.
My wife, did you wait for me, honor me?
No, you did not.
And yet, my wife, I give you all of me now.
Will you take me?
It is not too late, my wife; it is not too late for us.”
His gaze was direct and piercing, and there was no doubt that his poetry was for no one but her. In response, Jane could barely move; she couldn’t speak.
After his few words, the performance ended and he stepped quickly toward her. But, Jane wasn’t about to confront him. Not here, not now.
She jumped up as though there were a wound-up coil within her, and, turning around toward the entrance of the ballroom, she ran out of the room as fast as she could, aware of, but unable to look at the many curious glances sent her way. She didn’t stop, nor did she pause. Instead, she fled out into the foggy, darkened night, running along a pathway which led toward the gardens. There was a labyrinth there that she knew well. She intended to lose herself in it. Now.
Iron Wolf followed her. It was time to learn what was happening here. Who was that man?
He intended this to be his first question to the woman who should be, and still was, his wife. His second question to her would be why she believed he, her husband, had betrayed her. But this could wait.
He noted that she had fled into a maze that was flanked by fragrant bushes which were taller than a man, and, were he not the scout and tracker he was, he might have become lost within these high shrubs, for the paths intersected one another and led in multiple directions. But he didn’t lose his way. He found her soon enough.
Once he had discovered her, he spoke out softly, so she might become aware he had followed her. “What is going on here? Who is that man you were touching, the one who sat next to you? What is he to you?”
Jane spun around, the look of surprise on her countenance quickly turning to anger. She didn’t pause an instant, though, as she accused, “How dare you follow me!”
“I am your husband. It is my duty to follow you.”
“Well, you can go away now. I came here to be alone.”
Iron Wolf didn’t leave. Instead, he repeated his question, for he intended it to be answered, and asked once more, “Who is that man?”
“The one you touched. The one who sat beside you tonight.”
“He and I were to be married today.”
She turned her back on him and Iron Wolf didn’t speak; he couldn’t, for he felt as though she had punched him in the gut.
She added, “We didn’t marry today, as it turns out, because I would like my sister to be a part of the marriage ceremony. So we have postponed our wedding for the time being. And now you see that I, too, might marry another, as you have.”
Although he wished to speak out loudly, to rage the truth at her, he found it impossible to find his tongue, and so he paused until at last he was able to say, “My wife, you have become like a wild pony in my absence. How can you marry another when you are already married to me?”
“Am I? Do you forget you divorced me? And, how dare you call me ‘wild,’ when you…when you…” Her voice caught.
He ignored the insult and said instead, “You have now accused me of this too many times. Who has told this to you?”
“No one has ‘told’ it to me, as you say it. It was written up in the newspapers, and I have the divorce papers that you signed, or have you conveniently forgotten that? And, how dare you seduce me in front of all these people tonight; you, who are married to another. Is she here tonight? Does she care that you looked at me as you danced as though you were making love to me?”
She spoke so swiftly that he took a moment to understand all she had said, and then he asked, “Do you speak of the white-man’s newspapers where you saw my ‘wife’?”
“Who showed this to you?”
“Does it matter?”
He sighed. “Hau, hau, it matters. I would ask you again, who has said this to you?”
“My uncle, if you must know.”
“Your uncle who owns this house?”
Iron Wolf took a moment to collect his thoughts, then said, “You are wrong to believe these people, even if they be family.”
“So you can say easily enough. But, my uncle is beyond reproach and I am certain he wouldn’t lie to me. Besides, you forget that I have evidence of your betrayal of me.”
“No,” he countered, “what you have is ‘proof’ that is a lie. And, now I say that it is good you did not marry that man this day, for had you done so, you would have committed a grave error, one I could not easily set aside. So now, you must decide and choose between one or the other of us: me—your husband or that man. For, even in my society, a woman may have only one husband.”
“I have already chosen, and that man is not you.”
“Hau, then I will go.”
“But before I go, I wish to see these papers you have mentioned to me many times. I would witness these lies with my own eyes.”
“They are not lies.”
He raised his voice. “I say they are, and if you continue to tell me these untruths, I will say that you are a woman of no honor, who tells lies, as well.”
“How dare you shout at me, and how dare you say I am not honorable!”
He blew out his breath in an attempt to control his temper. At length, he said, “I am a man who must be convinced. Show me the papers you speak of, for I tell you true: I did not place my written name on anything. I have no other wife, but you. Why would I want another woman when the one I have is the sweetest, the most beautiful woman I have ever known or seen? I ask you, why would I throw away the woman of my heart, for, if I were to do that, would I not destroy her and myself, too?”
He noted that the compliment, spoken as it was from his heart, might have found its target. However, she did not respond favorably, and she turned her back upon him.
He encouraged, “Show me.”
When she turned around, she was crying, and his heart sank to realize that his raised voice and unkind words might have caused her grief. Still, what he’d said had been true.
“Do you really think I stoop to tell fibs? That I don’t have these things in my possession which show you betrayed me and then married another?”
“I would see them.”
She paused, as though she seriously considered his demand, even against her will. At length, she said, “I suppose that might be a fair request. So follow me. I will show you, although I am certain you are already aware of what I am talking about.”
He nodded, but said nothing except, “Show me. I will do as you ask and follow you.”
She turned around then and stomped out of the maze. And, Iron Wolf, astonished again by the obvious—that this was no act and that his wife truly hated him— trailed after her.
Well, that’s it for now. Look for the book November 15th, 2020 on Amazon. Hope y’all will let me know if you like the cover as well as I do. The male model is Lakota, by the way.
Also, book #1 of the Wild West Series is on sale now for $.99. It’s the first time this book has been put on sale for this low of a price.
You can get the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Itunes, but I’m going to leave the link here on the blog for Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/w49evpb
Also, I’ll be giving away a free e-book or paperback of the first book in The Wild West Series, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME. Remember to look at the rules we have here for giveaways. Just leave a comment and you’re entered into the drawing.
I’m excited to announce that I have a new sweet holiday release.
A Home for the Holidays is the story of a world-traveling engineer who has never had a place to call home, except for during the four years he spent in Holly, Idaho, living with his aunt while attending high school. Jason Regan has no time to celebrate holidays, and no reason to settle down…until a Holly, Idaho judge sentences him to 100 hours of community service at the local animal shelter for a decade-old unpaid parking ticket. Jason is, in effect, sentenced to Christmas.
Tess Evans is a recovering lawyer who now runs Forever Home animal shelter. She is thrilled to have a new volunteer, even after discovering that it’s the guy she’d crushed on in high school; a guy who had no clue that she was alive until a blabby friend told the world. But Tess will do her best to put her embarrassment behind her to join forces with Jason to empty the shelter by Christmas.
This series introduces my new small town series Holly, Idaho, so I’m giving away a Holly Jolly Christmas mug to one lucky commentor.
Here’s an excerpt from my story:
“Hold on!” Tess Evans hung up the phone as her dad attempted to open the door to Forever Home while balancing two cinnamon lattes and carrying his toolbox. Pete Evans had a proclivity for doing things on his own, be it raising three motherless daughters or opening a door with his hands full. He was usually successful, but in this case, he was about to lose a latte.
“Really, Dad?” Tess said as she rescued the top cup of steaming coffee just before it toppled.
“I almost made it.”
Tess took the other cup from him and set it on her desk. Pete set down the other, then jerked his head toward the door leading to the dog kennel area. “Will Lisa be done feeding before her coffee gets cold?”
“Judging from the decibel level, I think she’s almost done.” Morning feeding was always a loud and happy time as the food trolley rolled along the concrete aisle between rows of kennels. But once the dogs had their meals, barking stopped as eating commenced, and the sound level dropped accordingly.
“Why the big smile?” Pete asked as he set down his toolbox.
“I don’t need you today.” Tess was still feeling slightly dazed from the phone call she’d just received from justice court.
“You don’t need me?” Her dad sounded shocked, but Tess read the relief in his gaze. Despite having a very tight schedule on his latest project, he stopped by the shelter every Tuesday morning to spend an hour nailing things back together. The problem with retrofitting an old garage into a new animal shelter was that there were a lot of hidden issues that poked their heads up at the most inopportune times. She and Lisa had painted the place cheerful colors—yellow and aqua—and kept it sparkling clean, but they didn’t have the time or the skillset to deal with loose concrete bolts and flapping siding—the latest ills.
“I have a new warm body.” Which was nothing short of a miracle this time of year when everyone was so busy. There was just one teensy part of that good news that kept Tess from doing a full-on happy dance.
“Cat? Dog? Iguana? No, wait. You said warm body, not cold. Scratch the iguana.”
Tess smiled. “No, Dad. A human. One with building skills. Judge Nelson sentenced a guy to community service and decided that I needed the most help right now. I get him for one hundred hours.”
“One hundred hours?” Pete tipped his chin toward the ceiling as he did a quick mental calculation. “Twelve days? That seems like a healthy sentence.” His eyes narrowed. “What, exactly, did this guy do to earn that much community service?”
“Parking ticket. And it’s twelve and a half days.” Judge Nelson’s assistant had emphasized that the entire sentence was to be served, down to the last hour. No early outs due to holiday bon homie.
Her dad’s eyebrows lifted. “Did he park in the mayor’s reserved space?”
“The ticket is years old. I think Judge Nelson gave him ten hours for each year it wasn’t paid.”
Pete gave a short laugh. “That sounds like something the judge would do. Who is it?”
“Jason Regan.” The instant the name left her mouth, Tess felt her cheeks go warm, and gave herself a mental kick.
You are not the same geeky girl who crushed on the man long ago.
Law school had changed her, given her confidence, leadership abilities…migraines. But if she hadn’t gone, hadn’t buried herself in research and paperwork for eighty hours a week, she wouldn’t have known how happy she was not doing that, or that her true calling was managing the animal shelter her late grandmother had started five years ago to take the pressure off the regional shelter that Holly shared with the nearby town of Everly.
Her dad’s forehead creased. “Must be an out-of-towner.”
“No,” she said in a casual voice. Too casual? “He was a senior during my sophomore year. He left right after high school. Mae Regan is his aunt.” It seemed best to leave out the part about him being her unrequited crush and utterly oblivious to her existence, except for one small incident in the school cafeteria. Oblivious, that is, until gossipy Melissa Braddock had read the signs, guessed the truth, and ratted Tess out to the general school population.
“Just doing you a favor,” Melissa had said when Tess had confronted her in horror after word had gotten back to her. “How else will you get his attention?” The amazing thing was that Melissa really believed she had done Tess a favor.
But Tess would give Jason this—he never treated her differently. Meaning, of course, that he hadn’t given her so much as a side-eye. Her hope was that the news had never reached him, or if it had, he’d brushed it off as so much gossip.
“Jason Regan…” Her dad’s eyebrows drew together. “Oh, yeah. He was the kid with the mean three-pointer.”
“That’s the one.” Tess shooed away her embarrassed teenage self as she confronted her new reality. “He’s mine for one hundred hours, and I intend to get every bit of work out of him that I possibly can.”
Mr. Regan was going to be a terribly busy man, and she was close to betting money that he wasn’t as amazing as she remembered him. Backyards got smaller and all that stuff. She’d probably take one look at him and wonder what the big deal had been.
To enter to win the holiday mug, tell me the place where you most enjoy spending the holidays. Please note that I’ll be on the road tomorrow, but will answer comments when I get back home. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, October 30.
In my recent release, Shot through the Heart, my hero, Shiloh Coltrane, goes in search of outlaws in the Colorado Rocky Mts. through both Estes Park and Brown’s Hole (later named Park). This mountain area was once called the ‘Switzerland of America’ because of its beauty, and within its domain at around 8,000 ft. are several “parks”: North Park, Middle Park, South Park, Winter Park and, of course, Estes Park. Why are they called “Park”? Apparently, it’s Colorado-speak for an upland valley—and I have to say sounds rather nicer than ‘Hole,’ which is another western take on valleys, as in Brown’s Hole.
Estes Park was renowned for its beauty but was also an abundant hunting ground. It was brimming with wildlife that attracted numerous overseas visitors in the 19th century, notably wealthy men who came to hunt creatures they wouldn’t encounter back home. The Earl of Dunraven, an Anglo-Irish peer, was so enamored of this area, which he first viewed in 1872, that he set out to make it his own.
Why Dunraven favored Estes Park came down to several details, as varied as the beautiful sunsets, the dry air, and the fact nearby Denver was a station for no less than five railroad lines. He loved the area so much that he paid Albert Bierstadt $15,000 for a painting of Estes Park. The way Dunraven set about obtaining ownership to six thousand acres was a modus operandi that would be employed by numerous ranchers throughout the west in the coming years. Exercising his vast resources, he had his agents bribe various American citizens to make use of both the Pre-emption Act and Homestead Act to either buy or prove up 160 acres each. By choosing the sites wisely, Dunraven enclosed more acreage without access to water. Thirty-one claims were filed for his use.
In the next sixteen years, Dunraven was able to make the seventeen-day journey from Liverpool annually or more often. But as time went on, with squatters moving in, a grand jury investigating his claims, and his own increased involvement in HM Queen Victoria’s government, he was unable to visit after 1882 and eventually sold his land.
Most people who have visited the national park will have travelled at least part of Trail Ridge Road. Peaking at 12,000 ft., it twists and turns on the backbone of the Rockies through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. If you continue on this road on a rather circuitous manner, you will eventually reach Steamboat Springs. And from there if you head north, you touch upon Brown’s Hole, or Brown’s Park, nestled near the borders of CO, UT, and WY. You can see in the photos how the landscape changes from the greens of Estes Park to the red rock country and canyons of Brown’s Park.
Brown’s Park had a long history of being visited by Native Americans and trappers. Its harsh landscape was not particularly welcoming but a few settlers did move in, and there was a trading post. But the main visitors in the late 1800s were rustlers and other outlaws, and it became part of the outlaw’s trail, which included Robber’s Roost (UT) and Hole-in the-Wall (WY). Men such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Elzy Lay, and Tom Horn, as well as the Queen of Cattle Rustlers, Ann Bassett, had hide-outs or homes in Brown’s Park. Today part of it is the Brown’s Park National Wildlife Refuge, and its landscape, which eventually leads into Flaming Gorge in WY, remains fairly isolated and remote. Strict regulations are in place for the hiker, camper or other visitor, and warnings such as lack of cell phone reception and bringing enough water abound. For the outlaw on the run it remains a perfect hide-out.
To find out whether or not Shiloh gets his man and returns home to his beloved, you’ll have to read Shot through the Heart.I’m happy to let one lucky reader find out for free by commenting below. The prize will be a signed paperback if the winner is in the US or, for an overseas winner, any version of an eBook they prefer.
Gunslinger Shiloh Coltrane has returned home to work the family’s Wyoming ranch, only to find there’s still violence ahead. His sister and nephew have been murdered, and the killers are at large.
Dr. Sydney Cantrell has come west to start her medical practice, aiming to treat the people of a small town. As she tries to help and heal, she finds disapproval and cruelty the payment in kind.
When the two meet, it’s an attraction of opposites. As Shiloh seeks revenge, Sydney seeks to do what’s right. Each wants a new life, but will trouble or love find them first?
Book #3 of the Brides of Hope Mountain Series is in bookstores now. Shipping now!
A woman who’s afraid of everything is falling for the scariest man in the world.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG???
After a rough winter spent alone, Ursula Nordegren realizes she must overcome her fears of the outside world and begins a trek down Hope Mountain. Along the way she finds a badly wounded stranger and realizes God may have used her decision to leave as a way of saving the man.
Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.
As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring.
The Back Cover
He hunts down outlaws.
She hides away from everyone.
When a long winter alone has each rethinking their lives,
Will they be ready to spring for unexpected second chances?
With both her sisters gone and married, Ursula Nordegren is the only one left clinging to their grandma’s fears about the outside world. But after a winter spent in isolation, even she is rethinking those warnings. She bravely starts to venture down Hope Mountain, only to stumble upon a badly wounded stranger and realize God may have had an extra special purpose behind sending her out.
Wax Mosby thought he was a skilled hired gun with principles. But that identity was upended the day he realized he’d been duped into wrongfully driving out the Wardens. He’s spent the winter planning to climb Hope Mountain to find the family and atone for his deeds. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.
As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of leading new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the Wardens’ ranch looms with the coming of spring.
“Connealy concludes her Brides of Hope Mountain series with this charming tale. . . . Lush descriptions of the Colorado frontier and exciting gun battles make this a standout. Connealy’s fans will be pleased to see the series go out on a high note.” —Publishers Weekly
The Fillies welcome guest Kathleen D. Bailey. Please make her welcome.
Judge Henry Garth owns “Shiloh,” the largest ranch in and around Medicine Bow, Wyoming. When feuding ranchers and Indians from “up north” want to meet to settle their differences, Garth offers Shiloh as a neutral venue. He has two house guests: Ben, a city-slicker newspaperman come to visit Garth’s daughter Betsy, and the Indian Affairs agent who’s supposed to settle the whole mess. Garth wants a peaceful solution to the Indian/rancher problem, but his plans go awry when a group of thugs takes over Shiloh. He finds himself a hostage in his own home along with Betsy, the journalist, the Indian agent and Randy, his singing cowboy. His other hands are all at the roundup.
The hostages try various ways to foil the thugs. After the criminals take everyone’s guns, Randy mouths to Ben that there’s one in the desk Ben’s leaning on. Ben sneaks it out and aims it at the ringleader, but loses his nerve. When the captives discover a small bottle of laudanum they try to drug one of their captors’ coffee, but they are again foiled. The Indian Affairs guy turns out to be part of the problem when he reveals himself as allied with the criminals. There are other attempts at freedom, and each time the viewer thinks, “Well, they’ve got it now.” Except they don’t, because this is a 90-minute Western and there’s plenty of time for things to go wrong. Even The Virginian, Garth’s relentlessly resourceful foreman, can’t get them out of this one. He’s been shot.
Where will it all end? How will it all end, with every escape blocked?
Western movies and television have always known how to keep a viewer engaged. The classic stories hook viewers by baiting, switching and baiting again. Just when the viewer thinks the cowboy/wagon scout/marshal has figured a way out of their dilemma, someone or something will trip them up. Just when the viewer thinks there’s no hope, a solution appears, and they’ll wonder why they didn’t see it before. It’s like mystery writing only with horses.
The genre could be formulaic, especially in the early years. My husband and I are aggressive Western watchers and we’ve learned to recognize the archetypes such as the physician who won’t practice medicine any more, usually due to alcohol or losing someone precious to them. Or losing someone precious, then turning to alcohol. But it’s what they do with these archetypes that makes these tales stand the test of time.
I spent most of one summer watching “How The West Was Won,” the epic TV miniseries starring an aging James Arness as Zeb Macahan, one of the legendary Mountain Men. Arness was perfection in the role of his life, and supporting cast members included shoot-em-up royalty such as Slim Pickens and Dennis Weaver. But as I rolled through it a second time, I became hooked on the story itself. It wasn’t just Zeb meeting up with old cronies, or rescuing his kinfolk from one scrape after another. Oldest nephew Luke, played by a young Bruce Boxleitner, stumbled into serious trouble when he went back East to check on his father. He got conscripted into the Union army, ran away from same, stole a horse and shot a sheriff. The sheriff lived but lost the use of one arm, and that one rash act—and the sheriff’s lust for revenge—followed Luke through the entire series. Luke spent most of the show on the run, eluding the sheriff’s spies, hired guns and the sheriff himself. The threat to Luke’s life kept resurfacing, like Whack-A-Mole, every time he thought he had a chance at happiness. It’s perfect story structure, a thread that runs through the entire series and keeps the watcher hooked.
The best Westerns carry out the classic themes of guilt, shame, retribution and justice. They connect on a deeper level, as with John Wayne in “The Searchers.” It’s why I chose to write Westerns. Take two strong characters, give them something to fight about, give them an attraction—and set it against the Oregon Trail or a cattle drive or the Land Rush. Watch the magic happen.
What of Judge Garth? He solved his dilemma without a single bullet. Calling on his memories of a court case, he set two of his assailants against each other. A long-simmering grudge came to the front, and they destroyed one another. With all other escape routes blocked, Garth solved the problem with his mind.
The perfect ending to a not-so-perfect day.
The Western genre is adventure, romance and at its best something more. Western stories pack a satisfying experience for the reader. And if you’re a writer of Westerns, you can chalk up all that movie watching as research. You’re welcome.
So…what’s your favorite Western movie, mini-series or TV program? I’ll be giving away a paper copy of my first book, “Westward Hope”; an e-copy of the sequel, “Settler’s Hope”: and a New England gift pack to three separate winners. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.
Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.
Bailey’s work includes both historical and contemporary fiction, with an underlying thread of men and women finding their way home, to Christ and each other. Her first Pelican book, ‘‘Westward Hope,” was published in September 2019. This was followed by a novella, “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” in December 2019. Her second full-length novel, “Settler’s Hope,” was released July 17, 2020. She has a Christmas novella, “The Widow’s Christmas Miracle,” scheduled for this December as part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza,” and is completing “Redemption’s Hope,” the third and final book in the Western Dreams series.
She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.
The gunfighter and the recluse…what could go wrong?
Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.
As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring.
Thank you to the ladies of Petticoats and Pistols for having me back again for the launch of my new series, Granite Junction! This is actually a spin-off of my last series, Redemption Ranch, continuing some favorite characters and the same world, but with new story arcs and new fun times.
The series features a favorite secondary character, Emma Holt, a guidance counselor who’s been in love with her best friend, rancher Cam Miller, for her entire life. Only, he doesn’t feel the same way and, in fact, is selling his ranch and leaving the town forever. Kind of a romance killer. His cousin, Gabe Buchanan, comes to town, completely blocked on his latest book, to help Cam with the ranch and looking for a little fun, nothing serious. His charming ways win over Emma and they begin a little affair, neither intending for it to go much further than a summer romance. Yet when the lines between casual and interested blur, neither can deny the chemistry between them.
Gabe is a fun loving guy, using his charm and wit to hide his insecurities and fears. One of their dates is fairly typical of dating today – a movie. Except in his case, it’s to the town drive-in theater to see City Slickers! Not your typical romantic first date movie, or even the scary one to get the girl in your arms. Nope, Gabe chooses a comedy to laugh and have fun. He sets out a romantic dinner in the bed of the truck, with all of Emma’s favorite foods (including French fries from the local diner) and they settle in for the movie.
Of course after, she has to ask about his loving the movie, especially since he grew up on a guest ranch and was supposed to take over that portion of the family business until he went rogue and decided to write books instead.
Here’s a snippet from their conversation:
“No, I’ve always found City Slickers to be oddly profound and thought-provoking,” he replied.
She lightly punched him in the arm and laughed. “Only a guy would say that. You probably think fart jokes are funny too.”
“Funny, yes. Profound, definitely not.”
She turned on her side and propped herself on her elbow and looked down at him. “What do you mean by ‘thought-provoking’? I don’t think anyone has a deep, philosophical discussion based on City Slickers.”
He shrugged, his hands pillowing his head as he stared up at the stars. “Well, they should. Or maybe it’s something only a guy would get. But think about the whole premise. Three guys at major crossroads, all trying to figure out the secret of life. And a grizzly old trail boss has the secret and it’s so goddamn simple.”
She laughed. “They’re having midlife crises because one wants to keep dating younger women, one is afraid of his wife, and the other hates his job. It’s all pretty normal stuff.”
“Maybe. But the trail boss tells them that they’re complicating things. They need to find one thing. Just one thing and you stick to that and the rest means nothing. Basically, find the one thing that means everything to you. Mitch found it in the river, right? His family. Nothing else mattered. How simple is that? Yet we all focus on so many things, so many distractions. Narrow it down to that one simple thing.”
She lay back down, her mind suddenly focused. “Oh my God. You found something meaningful in a comedy.”
He grinned. “In every good movie, there’s meaning. Even the cartoons have it. Why not a comedy?”
“What’s your one simple thing?”
The silence dragged on for so long that she wondered if he had fallen asleep. Finally, he replied, “I’m still looking for it. But I’m close. And you?”
She paused. It was a loaded question. Before that night, she might have answered differently, might have automatically replied with her outline for her plan, the one that had been clearly defined for ten years and followed her from year to year, planner to planner. But now she hesitated. “I’m not sure.”
“Good. That one simple thing is not so simple and should require thought.”
“What other pearls of wisdom came out of the movie?” She asked, desperately trying to get back on firmer ground.
“Nope, I think that’s enough philosophy for one night. It’s getting late and I should get you home, though I doubt anyone will pull me over. That’s Cam’s problem tonight.” He laughed.
“You devil. Jo will be hunting him down and giving him tickets.”
He sat up and folded the blanket that covered them. “He’ll probably make me pay the ticket since I’m somehow to blame.”
She remained lying on her half of the blanket under them, her stomach clenching as she realized he was seriously ending the date and was not even going to try to kiss her. Disappointment morphed into outrage. How dare he not even try anything? She knew he found her attractive. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have come out here with her. No, he was putting distance between them, being careful with her, afraid to push her because of their earlier conversation, and it pissed her off. She had accepted her own issues and decided to go all in with him. She could have gone home, but now, damn it, she wanted the full date experience, especially now that they were at the infamous Granite Junction makeout spot, one she had never really experienced thanks to her overprotective brother and his best friend.
“You’re not even going to try and kiss me?”
He turned a hot gaze toward her. “I thought it might be best to end the night while I was ahead.”
She sat up. “You’re not ahead yet, Gabe.” She twined her fingers in his shirt and tugged him down so he lay half across her. “Now, let’s end this date properly.”
Of course, their date doesn’t end there. But you’ll have to read the book to find out who catches them and how Emma defines properly!
Check out The Wrong Cowboy, out now!
To get your name in the drawing for an electronic copy of The Wrong Cowboy, share what movie you find profound or thought-provoking that maybe other people might not? Let me know in the comments below!
Graduate from college? Check.
Land a school counselor job? Check.
Seduce her forever crush? Epic fail!
In fact, he’s not interested, period. But Emma is determined to change his mind until his cousin, Gabe Buchanan, puts a definite crimp in her perfect plans.
Gabe has come to help his cousin with work around the ranch while struggling to unravel his next book plot. The last thing he expected to find was literary inspiration in the curvaceous cowgirl pining over his cousin. Determined to prove he is the right match for her, he devises a plan to win Emma’s heart.
As much as Emma wants her childhood crush to finally take notice, she can’t help but be intrigued by the sizzling hot and funny Gabe. When he asks her out, she can’t say no. Besides, it’s just a friendly dinner. No big deal. Yet when the lines between casual and interested blur, neither can deny the chemistry between them.
Can Gabe fill every box on Emma’s checklist and give her what she needs the most? His heart and a future together?
Granite Junction is a spin-off from the Redemption Ranch series, with some of your favorite characters returning and making guest appearances, while others find their happy ever afters!
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I hope you all are enjoying your Labor Day and are able to celebrate. Unfortunately this year I am waaaaayyy behind on my current deadline book – long story I may tell you about soon – and will be spending the day furiously typing.
That being said, I hope you will forgive me for not creating a detail post for you. Instead I’m going to turn it over to you. Tell us how you normally celebrate Labor Day and whether or not you had to change things up this year. Later this week I’ll be selecting someone(s) from all the respondents to win their choice of any book from my backlist. That includes the current 2-in-1 reissue of my books Handpicked Husband & The Bride Next Door.
Regina Nash must marry one of the men her grandfather has chosen for her or lose custody of her nephew. But Reggie knows marriage is not for her, so she must persuade them—and Adam Barr, her grandfather’s envoy—that she’d make a thoroughly unsuitable wife.
Adam is drawn to the free-spirited photographer, but his job was to make sure Regina chose from the men he escorted to Texas—not marry her himself!
The Bride Next Door
Daisy Johnson is ready to settle in Turnabout, Texas, open a restaurant and perhaps find a husband. Of course, she’d envisioned a man who actually likes her, not someone who offers a marriage of convenience to avoid scandal.
Newspaper reporter Everett Fulton may find himself suddenly married, but his dreams of leaving haven’t changed. What Daisy wants—home, family, tenderness—he can’t provide…
I’m so excited for the release this month of the fourth book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy. Mark your calendar. September 28th is the day Zane Logan’s story arrives.
Zane is the playboy in this group of heroes. Women fall at his feet, and there’s never been one he couldn’t handle. Do you see trouble coming? Of course you do, and you’d be right. Here’s an excerpt from To Marry A Texas Cowboy. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to mark your calendar.
“Are you okay?” Mr. Stop Traffic asked, stepping into the light. She must have showered him with champagne because his shirt lay plastered against his chest, revealing his well-defined abs. Oh, my. His chest looked as wonderful as his face.
“I need to get to the generator,” McKenna said, but she’d no sooner gotten the words out when the lights came on.
“What happened? There’s blood smeared on your face and sleeve, and your nose is swollen.”
McKenna resisted the urge to groan, his comment obliterating all her feminine warm fuzzy feelings. While she was thinking about how dreamy he was, he’d been worried about her bloody, swollen nose. She should’ve known something practical accounted for his interest.
“Something hit my nose when the lights went out.”
“Bet it was the cork from my champagne bottle. It got away from me when the lightning hit.” He glanced around. “Mrs. Severance, you’re a nurse. Come check this out.”
Thanks. Call more attention to the fact that I got hurt and probably resemble a rodeo clown, while you, dripping wet with champagne look…marvelous.
McKenna smiled and waved the older woman off. “No need. I’m fine.”
“If you’re sure,” Mrs. Severance replied.
She nodded as Mr. Stop Traffic moved past her, lifted a glass, and filled it with water from a nearby pitcher. Next, he grabbed a napkin, dunked the square into the water, and returned. Increasingly embarrassed and fighting the urge to run, McKenna reached for the napkin, but he pushed her hand away. “You’ll only smear it more.”
His brows furrowed in concentration as he wiped the blood from her face. His green eyes held tiny flecks of gold, making them almost sparkle. He had the most mesmerizing eyes. Paul Newman, never-forget kind, except in green instead of blue. Her breath caught in her chest. She couldn’t think. Oh dear. No man had ever sent such a warm rush of pleasure pulsing through her before. Not even during sex.
“You need medical attention. Your nose is really swollen.”
His words obliterating her sexual feel-good haze, she leaned forward, kept a smile on her face, and whispered, “Stop saying how swollen my nose is. I’ll deal with it later. Right now, I need to do my job.” Then she straightened and announced, “I’m fine, everyone. If I wasn’t, I’d say so. Now let’s get this party back on track and toast the happy couple.”
She placed her empty bottle in the tub and selected another. This one she opened before handing it to him. “Pour. Everyone’s waiting.”
“Hey, Zane,” came Ty’s voice again from the dance floor, “everyone okay back there? You about got that champagne poured?”
McKenna froze. Zane? While that wasn’t a common name, it wouldn’t be unheard of for two men named Zane to be in attendance tonight.
Right, and if you believe that then you’ve got less brains than God gave a fruit fly.
“Don’t get your britches in a knot, Ty. We’ll be ready for the toast in a minute,” Zane replied.
No, she couldn’t have done what it appeared she had—assumed her boss’s grandson was temporary hired help, ordered him around, and spilled champagne all over him.
This man couldn’t be Ginny’s grandson, the video game designer from Los Angeles, because nothing about this man said California. He was all Texas, including Wrangler jeans, a crisp black western shirt, a silver oval belt buckle with Texas written in the center, and freshly polished cowboy boots.
Despite the evidence, she had to be certain. “You’re not Ginny’s grandson Zane, are you?”
“The one and only.”
Despite their awkward first encounter, when Zane takes charge of his grandmother’s wedding planning business and becomes McKenna’s temporary boss, she doesn’t let him run roughshod over her. Zane doesn’t know quite what to do with a woman he can’t impress, and there are plenty of fireworks.
Today’s giveaway is a signed copy of book 3 in the Wishing, Texas series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, and an insulated cup, Less Monday More Summer. Since Zane steps in to run his grandmother’s wedding planning business, to be entered in the random drawing leave a comment what you enjoy most about weddings, a wedding trend you like, detest or just don’t understand.